Desconstructing the musicals of the year—Part 3: Gadar 2

Utkarsh Sharma and Sunny Deol enact Main nikla gaddi leke in Gadar 2. Photo: Trailer Video Grab 

What is a musical in Hindi cinema? It is not about a music-oriented story—some of our finest music and chartbusters are from even horror and crime sagas! A Hindi film musical is thus a movie which is music-driven, that is, it uses music to take the story forward and can have as less as six songs, but usually has more.

Also, the songs here fulfill their conventional duties—they create the vibe for the film, sit pat on a situation, are overwhelmingly of the lip-synch kind, and ensure a repeat value for the movie. Most importantly, the songs cannot be interchanged with even similar situations in another film, and help the music industry in sales—physically or digitally.

In such a situation, there were only a handful of musicals this year, and Gadar 2 is the third film whose music I will be analyzing. There were multiple songs in films like Dunki, Satyaprem Ki Katha, Mast Mein Rehne Ka and Dhak Dhak, but they lacked the key merits of a musical.

However, if one includes the extensions or ‘other’ versions and small tracks composed by Monty Sharma and written by Sunil Sirvaiya, the film has 17 tracks! Heard as background numbers in most cases, these songs are sung by Asees Kaur (Tuk tuk tenu and Babul), Rekha Bhardwaj (Bataa de sakhi) , Gaurav Chati (Rabb jeya sohna) and Sunaina Tiwari (Wasl ki). All of them make for pleasant listening and none are longer than 3.30 minutes. One track, Come closer, written and sung by director Anil Sharma’s daughter Kairvina, is an English number also recorded under the supervision of Monty Sharma, incidentally, main composer Mithoon’s cousin!

From the main soundtrack, the (music) scene-stealers are obviously the anthems from the earlier landmark blockbuster, Gadar—Ek Prem Katha. Udit Narayan has re-recorded Udd jaa kaale kaawa and Main nikla gaddi leke under Mithoon’s supervision, and while he has modulated his vocal tenor to a shade mature to fit a Sunny Deol shown as 22 years older, his own vocals are so well-maintained that he has to actually make that effort, for Udit too is now 21 years older but his voice remains as youthful as our legendary singers’ vocals did after decades!

In one version of his Udd jaa, we have Alka Yagnik, sounding dulcet as always. And in the climax, a functional part is sung by Jubin Nautiyal and Mithoon and obviously the energies, vocal timbre and passion cannot even be compared with Udit’s. There is a Palak Muchhal (Mrs. Mithoon now) version too, which is okay. In Main nikla gaddi leke, out of situational reasons, Udit’s son Aditya and Mithoon again join him.

The genius of Uttam Singh’s compositions and Anand Bakshi’s words comes to the forefront in these two timeless melodies, a stark comparison between how music was for decades and what it has been reduced to in the last five years thanks to a combination of market and mercenary forces in and outside music and a misguided ethos of keeping up musically with global styles! Every phrase and sentence and each musical note make their own mark and have a meaning in the context of story, situation and characters.

From Mithoon’s original work, the standout song is easily Chal tere ishq mein, which has the feel of a qawwali. Neeti MohanVishal Mishra, Shehnaz Akhtar, Sahil Akhtar, Shadab Faridi, Altamash Faridi and Mithoon himself are the singers here and the sequel’s lyricist, Sayeed Quadri, has a lot to answer for.

And why do I say this? Simply because the song has a heavy recycled feel of Anu Malik’s classic Har taraf har jagah har kahin pe hai from Saaya, which Quadri had penned two decades back! Maybe he wrote the new words to the same metre, or maybe…?! This song also has a solo version by Vishal Mishra, which is adequate.

In the older days, it became news when composers sang, or when one music director sang for another, but now, thanks to various trends and technological advances, such things have become extremely common. So Vishal Mishra, also a composer, sings another version of the bland melody, Dil jhoom, which also has a more popular Arijit Singh-Mithoon version. The song is soulful, but nothing special.

A transiently popular appeal is also there in Khairiyat, sung well by Sakshi Holkar.  And lastly, Sukhwinder Singh joins Mithoon in the excerpt taken from the Guru Granth Sahib, Sura soi.

The album is a classic case of judicious use of Punjabi despite the story being very much set in that state and featuring a Sikh family. As the late lyricist Gulshan Bawra once told me, “I am a Punjabi. I came here and most filmmakers and actors were also from Punjab. But I never wrote a song in Punjabi in a career of over 30 years until my last song’s mukhda, Le pappiyan jhappiyan paale hum from Haqeeqat. I only wrote in Hindi and Urdu!”

That, I think, says it all. And there is a lesson somewhere.

Rating: 3.5 stars







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